WASHINGTON (JTA) — The American Israel Public Affairs Committee thanked elected U.S. leaders, including President Obama, for their "steadfast" support of Israel.
The rare statement, issued on Sunday afternoon shortly before the start of Rosh Hashanah, comes at a time of sharp Republican criticism of Obama’s Israel record.
"With Israel and America facing unprecedented threats and challenges in the Middle East, we deeply appreciate the close and unshakeable partnership between the United States and Israel," the statement said. "President Obama and the bipartisan, bicameral congressional leadership have deepened America’s support for Israel in difficult times.
"Under the leadership of Democrats and Republicans, working together, U.S.-Israel security cooperation has reached unprecedented levels," the statement said.
Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate for president, and his surrogates repeatedly have accused Obama of "throwing Israel under the bus" for differences with Israel over peacemaking with the Palestinians and more recently for not heeding Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s calls to issue clear red lines Iran must not cross with its suspected nuclear weapons program or face U.S. military action.
The AIPAC statement cites by name only two leaders: Obama and Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio), the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.
It emphasizes what it says is the need to further pressure Iran to end its nuclear weapons program, but stops short of calls for military action.
"As Rosh Hashanah nears, AIPAC — its leadership and staff — extends to Israel’s strongest supporters heartfelt appreciation for the work of this administration and Congress to strengthen the U.S.-Israel relationship," the statement concluded. "We stand ready to work together in the year ahead to enable both countries to meet the serious challenges we face, especially preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear capabilities."